PHARMACY

FDA approves generic versions of osteoporosis drug

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first generic version of a drug for treating and preventing osteoporosis in women after menopause, the agency said Monday.

The FDA announced the approval of ibandronate tablets in the 150-mg strength made by Apotex, Orchid Healthcare and Mylan Pharmaceuticals. Genentech makes the branded version of the drug.

"Men as well as women are affected by osteoporosis, a disease that can be prevented and treated," FDA Office of Pharmaceutical Science deputy director Keith Webber said. "For people who must manage their health conditions over time, it is important to have affordable treatment options."


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PHARMACY

Women use mental health drugs at higher rate than men, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — Women take mental health drugs at a much higher rate than men, according to a new study by one of the country’s largest pharmacy benefit managers.

Medco Health Solutions released results of the study Monday, showing that 25% of women use psychotropic drugs, compared with 15% of men. The study was based on the pharmacy claims of more than 2 million Americans and measured the use of drugs for treating depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and psychotic disorders between 2001 and 2010.

"Some mental health medications, such as antidepressants, have historically been more widely used by women than men," lead researcher and Medco Neuroscience Therapeutic Resource Center psychiatrist and national practice leader David Muzina said. "However, what is surprising is how many women are taking these medications and the substantial increase in the number of women on treatments that have traditionally not been heavily used by females, like ADHD drugs."

While boys used ADHD drugs at a much higher rate than girls, women used them more than men. Women ages 20 to 44 years showed the highest use of the drugs among adults, with utilization rising by 264% over the decade. A similar pattern occurred with antipsychotics, with use higher among boys than among girls, but higher among women than among men.

Meanwhile, 11% of women ages 45 to 64 years used anti-anxiety drugs, compared with 5.7% of men.

"These findings confirm that mental illness is a growing problem in the United States and that more patients are seeking needed therapy," Muzina said. "However, adequate monitoring by pharmacists and physicians and an open patient dialogue is imperative due to the complexities of mental illness and the risk of taking these medications inappropriately."


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Walgreens’ Surescripts deal heralds bright future for pharmacy

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — There is power in information. There is even more power in that information when it is conveniently available at the precise moment it is needed — in this case, during one of a patient’s increasingly time-crunched appointments with a general healthcare practitioner. Today more than half (52%) of all office-based doctors are using that Surescripts network to streamline and help manage the prescriptions they write, which is connecting them to 94% of all retail pharmacies. Efficiently coordinating care across the multitude of healthcare practitioners that patients are regularly engaging is not the future of health care; it’s the today of health care. Is your business ready?

(THE NEWS: Walgreens to deliver immunization data over Surescripts network. For the full story, click here.)

According to a Surescripts study released last month regarding the impact of e-prescribing on medication adherence and subsequent cost savings, there has been an approximate 10% increase in patient first-fill medication adherence among physicians who adopted e-prescribing technology when compared with physicians who did not use e-prescribing. Prior studies have documented that as much as 28% of all paper prescriptions had never made it to the pharmacy, so this represents strong momentum toward increasing patient compliance and reducing healthcare costs.

Generically apply that 10% lift to immunization compliance, and there would have been an additional 11 million patients inoculated from influenza over the 2011-2012 cough, cold and flu season. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by early November 2011, an approximate 36% of people 6 months and older had been vaccinated. That translates to about 111 million people and represents a 3.5 percentage-points lift versus the 2010-2011 cough, cold and flu season. And for children this past season, almost 37% were inoculated versus 31% last year. That positive momentum can only be enhanced by a physician’s ability to verify vaccination compliance across their patient base.

But this won’t stop at immunizations. There’s too much potential here for improvements across overall disease state management as pharmacy and retail clinics continue to build out not only medication-therapy management capabilities, but also disease-state management and disease-diagnostics offerings. And stay tuned — later this week, the Food and Drug Administration will be meeting to discuss how to further augment the pharmacist’s role in the administration of health care as the agency explores expanding its Rx-to-OTC paradigm through better utilization of the pharmacist.

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